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Reading Benjamin Politically. The Historical Materialist

Massimiliano Tomba, University of California, Santa Cruz

October 5, 2020 · 12:00 pm-1:30 pm · via Zoom

Department of German

Benjamin’s eighth thesis on the concept of history reads: “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.” What does the tradition of the oppressed look like? What is today’s state of emergency? And what is the “real state of emergency”? This paper argues that the eighth thesis not only constitutes a possible guide for the political reinterpretation of Benjamin for our present but can also be a criterion for reassembling the entire set of theses in different constellations.

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